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10 posts from April 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Consumer Fraud Reform Bill, S-2855, introduced in the Senate

Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) introduced the companion bill to A-3333 on Thursday, which would reform New Jersey’s oft-abused Consumer Fraud Act.  The bill number is S-2855.

A-3333 has received bipartisan support in the Assembly and is sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex) and co-prime sponsors Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) and Dominick DiCicco (R-Glouster).   It is cosponsored by Assemblywomen Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth), Mila Jasey (D-Essex), Elease Evans (D-Passaic), and Alison Littell McHose (R-Sussex). 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where to file a whacky class-action lawsuit? New Jersey, of course!

New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act is among a minority states which allow “litigation tourism” – that is, permitting non-New Jersey residents to sue under the Act.  And because New Jersey’s CFA is so broadly constructed, many out-of-staters and their attorneys are eager to jump on the class-action bandwagon

Case in point:

Lawsuit claims Benjamin Moore 'zero VOC' paint has foul odor

Apr 26, 2011 5:17 PM  | Via Consumer Reports

Benjamin_Moore_Natura_Semi-Gloss-thumb-240xauto-576

Describing the smell of some batches of Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint as “horrid,” two law firms filed suit against the paint maker today on behalf of a woman who claims she had to move out of her home because the odor was so strong. Filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, the complaint initiates a class action suit, according to Lexington Law and Scott + Scott LLP.

According to court papers, Marlene Sway, the plaintiff, painted several rooms in her California home with Natura paint in 2009. Soon after she noticed a foul odor and areas where the paint failed to dry, according to the complaint. She eventually moved out.

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Moral of the story?  Lawyers love to file lawsuits under New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act, especially when they stink.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here’s something NJLRA and the trial lawyers can agree on

“New Jersey is, in many ways, ground zero for mass tort in the US, with the majority of major drugmakers headquartered in the state.”

That’s where the accord stops.  We celebrate the jobs, innovation, and life-saving drugs that our nation’s “Medicine Chest” generates.  Trial lawyers are celebrating Accutane lawsuits, 3,100 strong, which were consolidated in Atlantic County Superior Court.   

We’ve written about the popular acne drug Accutane extensively.  It’s now off the market, due in large part to the cost of the settlements its manufacturer has had to pay. 

Calling our state’s largest industry “ground zero for mass tort” isn’t exactly the encouragement New Jersey business owners and entrepreneurs need during these economic times.  But to the detriment of everyone else, the only industry the trial bar is concerned with seems to be ‘litigation tourism.’ 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Intern wanted!

NJLRA is looking for an intern this summer. 

Specifically, we’re looking for a college student with a strong interest in the law and state government to help with a few short-term projects.  The intern should have solid research and computer skills. 

 ::Knowledge of Excel is a must :: 

 If you know anyone who is interested, please ask them to email us their resume and cover letter. 

Compensation & hours to be discussed.

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Budget break. What’s a New Jersey Tort Reformer to do?

One of the most appealing aspects about tort reform is that it has the power to spur economic growth while being budget-neutral. 

That said, the legislative “budget break” – which is the period between the end of March and June when the Legislature is in recess while the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees meet to finalize the next fiscal year’s budget – can seemingly push tort reform to the back burner. 

Fortunately, there are some things tort reformers can do:

Take a look at your municipal budget.  How much money is your town or city spending on litigation costs?  It’s probably much higher than you think.  Could some endangered local government service be spared if its litigation tab weren’t so high?   Perhaps it’s worth mentioning at your next town council meeting, especially if a lot of cases are referred to expensive private firms.  You’ll be happy you spoke up when your next property tax bill is due. 

Review tort reform measures that were recently introduced.  Senators Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) and Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) recently introduced S-2800, which adds an additional protection for doctors to two of the proposals in S-760/A-1982.  The new bill addresses protecting a doctor from having his or her name linked to a malpractice suit prematurely.  It also provides protections for volunteer physicians acting and good faith and prevents doctors’ insurance premiums from automatically increasing when a lawsuit is filed.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) also introduced several bills in late 2010 which would protect local governments from liability in certain instances where whether is to blame.  The bills were endorsed by the New Jersey League of Municipalities, which you can read about here

See where redistricting has left you.  Are you in a new legislative district?  Use this as an opportunity to educate your new legislators on the importance of a business-friendly climate in New Jersey.  Unless they live under a rock, they’ve heard this before.  But they might not have thought about tort reform as a means to achieving economic growth.  You can check the new legislative map here to see if your municipality has been moved to a different district.

In sum, the budget break is a great time for tort reformers to connect the dots between economic growth in Trenton and municipal and family budgets at home.  It’s a great way to keep up the momentum and learn more about your community at the same time. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NJLRA joins Innovation New Jersey

Continuing our quest to promote economic growth in New Jersey, NJLRA has joined Innovation New Jersey, a coalition of the state’s leading business and higher education organizations.

Innovation New Jersey seeks to foster the life sciences and biotechnology industries in New Jersey by uniting the state’s business and higher education communities.  NJLRA is optimistic that enacting meaningful lawsuit reform measures will encourage an innovation-based economy by making it safe for responsible pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to operate here in New Jersey. 

“Statistics show that New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are a leading source of jobs and economic stability in New Jersey,” said Marcus Rayner, executive director of NJLRA.  “By protecting these companies from frivolous litigation, we are allowing them to invest more of their resources into doing what they do best: creating jobs and saving lives.”

Innovation New Jersey has received the support of Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.  Together, the coalition hopes to achieve the following:

  • Encourage increased private and public sector research and development;
  • Promote the commercialization of new medicines, technologies and products to improve the quality of life globally;
  • Stimulate economic growth in New Jersey;
  • Retain and advance high-paying innovation-related jobs in the State;
  • Increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related graduates from New Jersey colleges and universities.

A complete list of Innovation New Jersey’s members can be found on INJ’s new website, http://innovationnj.net/

Monday, April 11, 2011

Senator Allen on medical malpractice reform, and other women’s issues

Allen The trials and tribulations Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) faced in New Jersey politics were front and center over the weekend in a Star-Ledger piece by Linda Ocasio. 

A cosponsor of S-760/A-1982, which would enact many of the medical malpractice reform measures NJLRA supports, Senator Allen offers her perspective as to why it hasn’t been acted upon:

“If we had more women of either party, we’d get a lot of these things through,” Senator Allen said. 

An extensive hearing of the bipartisan, bi-cameral Women’s Legislative Caucus last year underscored the declining number of OB/GYNs and subsequent impact on women’s access to care.  After months of languish, the Assembly version of the bill passed favorably from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, but was later second-referenced to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. 

You can read the full Star-Ledger piece here

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The New Map

As most LRW readers already know, New Jersey’s new legislative district map has arrived.  Changes weren’t as drastic as some anticipated, and what this means for tort reform over the next decade remains to be seen.  LehighValleyLive.com has the before and after photos:   

New-jersey-redistricting-04f26e1901568216

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Will trial lawyers make Caterpillar Inc. regret staying in Illinois?

Last month, we underscored Governor Christie’s pitch to attract Illinois businesses in an op-ed.  New Jersey’s “well-educated, diverse talent pool” and “innovative financing, incentive, and assistance programs” for new businesses is ideal for entrepreneurship – especially to a state which raised its corporate tax rate from 4.8 to 7 percent. 

The CEO of one business, however, recently told Illinois Governor Pat Quinn that his business would stay – but that the state’s business climate needs to change.   

Doug Oberhelman, CEO of Caterpillar Inc., which manufactures heavy equipment in the Peoria area, employs 23,000 people.  Governor Quinn reportedly acknowledged that the state’s business image is in need of an overhaul. 

Illinois ranked eighth in the region in job growth as a percentage of its population last year, according to Chicago Business.  To the chagrin of Caterpillar’s overseas representatives, personal income tax also rose, from 3 percent to 5 percent.  They expressed concern about the company’s ability to attract engineers, and reiterated that even if Governor Quinn’s call for a 30 percent reduction in businesses’ liability for workers compensation is enacted, Illinois would still have the 2nd highest rates in the nation. Illinois businesses also want to see a cap on civil liability. 

Governor Quinn also told Oberhelman that he plans to invest in Illinois’s infrastructure and help manufacturing companies improve their ability to export.  Let’s hope that that Illinois trial lawyers don’t take it as a green light to invest in workers compensation lawsuits in the meantime. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"Old-Fashioned Justice," meet the trial lawyers

With arguments in the Wal-mart sex-discrimination case before the U.S. Supreme court, Liptak examines whether the class is too big and too diverse to produce a fair outcome

Excerpt: WASHINGTON — Can a class-action lawsuit be too sprawling to deliver old-fashioned justice?

Justice Antonin Scalia seems to think so, judging by his comments on Tuesday during the Supreme Court argument in the biggest employment discrimination class action in history.

“We must have a pretty bad judicial system,” he said, reflecting on what he had just heard from a lawyer for hundreds of thousands of women suing Wal-Mart over what they say was unfair treatment on pay and promotions. The lawyer had said that a trial judge could rely on statistical formulas rather than testimony and personnel records to decide how much money the company would have to pay each plaintiff if it lost.

“Is this really due process?” Justice Scalia asked.

In other words, does the impersonality of the suit threaten its ability to be fair to each plaintiff and to Wal-Mart, the country’s biggest private employer?

Read entire article.